Mama: PLEEEEEASE can I have some fishstick? PLEEEEEASE pretty pretty pretty pretty PLEEEEASE?
Boy: (giggles, places hands over previously shunned bowl) NO!
Mama: I’m gonna git me some fishyfish, mama’s hungry hungry huuuuungry! (roars terrible roar, gnashes terrible teeth, rolls terrible eyes, shows terrible claws)
Boy: NO NO NO!
Mama: YES YES YES!
Boy: NO! (shoves whole fishstick into mouth)
Mama: Whaaa! (cackles triumphantly inside head)
Boy: Ha! (cackles triumphantly out loud)
He is The Borg. Countermeasures only work for a few effective shots: then he assimilates my strategy and once again demands popsicles over peas. He is bossame, bossayou. Mama NO! No snack mama. I busy. Mama go over dere. I no poop. (toxic green cloud promptly fills room)
In comparison to this boy, babyrearing is about as taxing as keeping care of a chia pet. Suddenly we’re struck with just exactly how twitched up we were when we had Evan, and how marvellously straightforward infants are. Feed. Burp. Cuddle. Sleep. (repeat) For his new baby brother it’s that squashy sort of enthusiasm, the kind that has him playing horseshoes with his potty training toilet seat and Ben’s stationary head.
He stops strangers in the street to say I ABIG BRUDDER. My widdle brudder is ABEN. He is ABABY. He no talk. They say Oh! Indeed and Well my goodness as they should, and we go on our way, the two of us walking well above the ground.
As soon as it came up on screen I started to cry. Ben’s head, the faint outline of his skull and then, inside, more or less a dark-grey void. Looks good said the technician, thankfully engrossed in her work and not in me.
The last cranial ultrasound I saw was Liam’s. It was white, mostly. The remnants of an explosion, deciphering damage like trying to pick out the perimeter of a particular cloud on an overcast day. No wonder they were shocked that he was able to orchestrate a sneeze I think to myself, and loss washes over me like a pounding, the visual before and after of what should have been two identical boys.
I close my eyes and rub my lips back and forth across the fuzz on Ben’s head, grateful but thinking love, love, bittersweet forever.